STUDENTS from Chifley College's year 10 took some MasterChef-type lessons with Panthers on the Prowl at Penrith's Outback Steakhouse recently.
They learned some cooking skills and which they pitted against Panthers player, and amateur cook, Michael Jennings.
Panthers on the Prowl works with schools to encourage students having problems coping with schoolwork.
Panthers players act as mentors, while students participate in classes during school time, but in a less formal atmosphere.
"It gives them an opportunity to see and experience things outside the usual school structures," said Panthers on the Prowl teacher Graham Collins.
"The competition at Outback Steakhouse is to increase their understanding of what's around; to offer them possible paths to employment."
Jennings said the Panthers had been involved in the cooking program for several years.
"It's a great program for kids who can get involved with our players," he said.
"They want a change in their lives and being with our players will give them a chance to do that."
Outback Steakhouse Penrith proprietor Mike Hicks said his restaurant was glad to be able to help Panthers on the Prowl.
"Most of these students have excellent help here, particularly with professional Panthers players providing good role models for them," he said.
"We're introducing these young people to a workplace; in this case what it's like to be a chef. But it's also about fun and getting involved."
Before training, Mr Hicks talked his young visitors through Outback Steakhouse's food policy.
"And 95 per cent of the food we have is made from scratch. For instance, we make our chocolate sauce here, using cream, sugar and other ingredients. Each week about 2500 people come to this restaurant so everything is about timing; you have to have attention to detail."
He said the students had done well in the kitchen.